2019 Book #57 – To the Stars and Back by Camilla Isley

51hTVVGAldLTitle: To the Stars and Back
Author: Camilla Isley
Date finished: 8/9/19
Genre: Contemporary romance, romantic comedy
Publisher: Pink Bloom Press
Publication Date: June 14, 2019
Pages in book: 231
Stand alone or series: #4 in the First Comes Love series
Where I got the book from: Author/publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

When Hollywood’s sexiest bachelor meets the girl next door their relationship doesn’t follow the script…

On-screen, Christian Slade is America’s favorite heartthrob. Off-screen, letting romance into his life isn’t as easy. The women he dates all seem to want a piece of his glamorous life rather than his heart, and trust doesn’t come easy for him.

Then along comes Lana. A beautiful rocket scientist who’s also sweet, smart, sexy, and has absolutely no idea who he is. But what will happen when she finds out?

Will their worlds prove too far apart or could love really be like in the movies?

My rating: 3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I finished this book for ARC August 2019! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because this year they have a bunch of fun games and challenges, including one of my favorite things, reading bingo! This book will be checking off my “Author I’ve Read before” since I’ve read a number of books by this author before.

So far I’ve read the other 3 books in this series and I have to say overall this is just a great series. The books are laugh out loud funny and short enough to hold your interest but long enough to still have a well developed story line. If you’re looking for a fairly quick but still engaging and fun read, these are the books for you! This was a cute story, and I liked so many of the details that were included within the story. I loved all the science facts included and how smart Lana was. Even better was how passionate she was about teaching and about helping others – it was positively endearing. And I also loved her cats, they sounded so cute! Christian was an ok hero for me but I couldn’t really connect with him, he felt a little two-dimensional to me even towards the end. I still really enjoyed the book though and I’d recommend both it and the other books in the series!

Link to author website

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2019 Book #21 – This Scot of Mine by Sophie Jordan

51UzbqNHyiL._SX314_BO1,204,203,200_Title: This Scot of Mine
Author: Sophie Jordan
Date finished: 3/27/19
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: March 12 2019
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: #4 in The Rogue Files series
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss
NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A daring deception…

Desperate to escape her vile fiancé, Lady Clara devises a bold lie—that she’s pregnant with another man’s child. With her reputation in tatters, Clara flees to Scotland to live out her days in disgrace, resigned to her fate as a spinster…until she claps eyes on the powerful and wickedly handsome Laird Hunt MacLarin.

She’s the answer to his curse…

Laird of an ancient clan, Hunt needs an heir, but he comes from a long line of men cursed to die before the birth of their firstborn. When the Duke of Autenberry approaches him with a proposition—marry my ruined sister—it seems the perfect solution. Even better, the defiant lass stirs him to his very soul.

No escaping the truth…

Except marriage cannot set them free. No matter how much Hunt desires her. No matter how much Clara burns for him. Soon she is falling for her husband, but is love enough to end the curse? Or is the tragic history of the MacLarin Clan doomed to repeat itself?

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I liked this book pretty well. The plot was kind of interesting, though it didn’t click quite right with me for some reason. I felt the potential there but I couldn’t get into it all the way, I’m not sure if it is just because I am super busy at work right now and therefore don’t have much time to focus on reading. I did get into the story at one point and stayed up way too late reading. And gosh there were some steamy scenes in this book, great chemistry between the main characters! Clara was a little naive for me I thought though. Even with how strong she was and how fierce she could be at times, she was too timid for me at other points. And I think maybe a lot of my issues stem from how underhanded everyone was with lying to Hunt and also how everyone completely disregarded something he believed in. Whether they believed in the curse or not, he believed in it and to me that’s what should matter. Anyways, overall I did enjoy the book and I would recommend it!

Link to author website

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2019 Book #15 – Just Friends: Friends to Lovers series box set by Camilla Isley

5160JaNqjuLI’ve read a few books by Camilla in the past and really enjoyed them, so I was excited when she gave me the opportunity to read this boxed set of her Friends to Lovers Series. I decided to read the whole thing in one full sweep so I wouldn’t lose track of which character was which. I decided to rate the series as a whole but I also discussed each of the separate books below. I’d probably recommend reading them as a series since they’re fairly connected (mostly the last 3 in the set) and might end up being confusing when read as a stand alone, though I’m sure you’d still enjoy it.

Series Title: Just Friends: A Friends to Lovers Series
Author: Camilla Isley
Date finished: 2/25/19
Genre: Contemporary romance, romantic comedy
Publisher: Pink Bloom Press
Publication Date: June 28, 2018
Pages in book: 694
Stand alone or series: Full Just Friends series
Where I got the book from: Author/publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Love and friendship mix in the Just Friends series… the books follow the misadventures and exploits of a group of college students in Boston.

For Rose being in love with her best friend has never been easy, but now that she’s moved in with Tyler her feelings have become impossible to ignore.

Tyler has bitten more than he can chew, torn between two girls he must decide where his heart stands.

Georgiana is determined to do everything in her power to keep Tyler and Rose apart. After all, all is fair in love and war.

Alice fell in love with Jack the day she moved into her freshman dorm. Problem is, she’s been stuck in the friend zone ever since. After another meaningless breakup, she’s ready to confess her feelings to Jack.

Jack has mistaken friendship for love once before and has vowed never to do it again. A varsity sports player, he’s determined to enjoy college with no strings attached.

Peter is Jack’s best wingman. He enjoys his popularity as team captain and when he meets Alice, he’s ready to steal her heart.

David and Scott Williams are in love with the same girl, again.

Haley has never been happier than in her relationship with Scott. But she can no longer deny bad-boy David has gotten under her skin.

Madison has always been insecure in love. The only satisfying romances in her life come from the many books she reads. Book-boyfriends are easy to fall for, but the real world seems short of swoon-worthy heroes. And just when she thought she might’ve found one, he fell in love with her best friend…

My rating: 3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of these books in exchange for an honest and fair review. I read this book as part of the Bookish Romance Novel Bookish Bingo Reading Challenge. This book will be checking off my “Indie Publisher” box, since it was published by a smaller publishing company!

I enjoyed this series, though there were some of the books that I liked more than others. I think my favorite story of the couples was Jack and Alice’s. Madison’s story was a little too quick for me, and Haley’s was a little too sad. And honestly Georgianna and Tyler’s story was just heart-breaking for me and made me so angry. Georgianna was a horrible person and I really hoped that she would get more of a “lesson learned” than what she did. Rose’s story was definitely not what I expected it to be! I kept expecting it to take a hard left and turn around and it never happened. And then I got to the end and was just surprised that was where it ended! There were a lot of characters in this story and many of them were interesting, though I was a little put off by the obsession with “boys” in the story lines. I can certainly understand it but I think being so far removed from that period of my life has made me forget what it feels like to be “boy-crazy.” It reminded me a lot of my youth though, and I didn’t want to put it down. The story line was interesting and I felt involved enough with the characters that I felt engaged in their stories. I’d recommend the series! Thought maybe space it out a little, I think if I had even a tiny bit of room between the books I would’ve been more patient with some of the characters.

Link to author website

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2019 Book # 2 – The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

51qqjkvcdqlTitle: The Winter of the Witch
Author: Katherine Arden
Date finished: 1/10/19
Genre: Fiction, fantasy, magical realism, fairy tale
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: January 8, 2019
Pages in book: 384
Stand alone or series: #3 in the Winternight Trilogy
Where I got the book from: Publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Following their adventures in The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower, Vasya and Morozko return in this stunning conclusion to the bestselling Winternight Trilogy, battling enemies mortal and magical to save both Russias, the seen and the unseen.

“A tale both intimate and epic, featuring a heroine whose harrowing and wondrous journey culminates in an emotionally resonant finale.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Reviewers called Katherine Arden’s novels The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower “lyrical,” “emotionally stirring,” and “utterly bewitching.” The Winternight Trilogy introduced an unforgettable heroine, Vasilisa Petrovna, a girl determined to forge her own path in a world that would rather lock her away. Her gifts and her courage have drawn the attention of Morozko, the winter-king, but it is too soon to know if this connection will prove a blessing or a curse.

Now Moscow has been struck by disaster. Its people are searching for answers—and for someone to blame. Vasya finds herself alone, beset on all sides. The Grand Prince is in a rage, choosing allies that will lead him on a path to war and ruin. A wicked demon returns, stronger than ever and determined to spread chaos. Caught at the center of the conflict is Vasya, who finds the fate of two worlds resting on her shoulders. Her destiny uncertain, Vasya will uncover surprising truths about herself and her history as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all.

My rating: 5.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I have read the first two books in this series and loved them. For me, this series has been so interesting, different and refreshing, and I have thoroughly enjoyed each book. Also, I don’t know who designed the covers for this trilogy, but they have been GORGEOUS. They really draw the reader to the book and represent each book’s story so well.  I found this book a bit easier to jump back into than the last, though it does still take a good amount of additional concentration compared to some of the other novels I’ve read recently. There are just so many characters to keep track of and they’re all called multiple names/nicknames throughout the book. It can be daunting to keep track of at times, but it’s definitely do-able. This book could possibly be classified as “wordy” – to be honest if it were any other book I would probably say it is – but with this book I found each word to be so necessary to the magic of the story, and I found myself going back over the pages because I didn’t want to miss a single word. The author uses intense descriptions to draw the reader into the story and trap them in this Russian world of magic and wonder. And the narratives surrounding the fight scenes were so good that I felt like I was there, watching the sweat drip from the warriors’ faces.

This book really made the reader question the idea of right vs wrong and good vs evil. I love when books make us reevaluate our ideas of morality, and I thought this was a very interesting sub-layer to the story. One of my favorite quotes in the book was “monsters were for children,” as Vasya learns that the truth is more complicated than simply being able to pick a side and call it the “right” side or the “good” side. All of us have the potential for goodness inside of us and all of us have the ability to make a difference in the world, even in unorthodox ways. I just loved delving into this concept within the story line amidst all of the action and magic that the book brought to life for me. I highly recommend reading this series and I can’t wait to see what this author comes up with next!

Link to author website

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2018 Book #93 – A Christmas Date by Camilla Isley

Title: A Christmas Date
Author: Camilla Isley
Date finished: 12/9/18
Genre: Contemporary romance, romantic comedy
Publisher: Pink Bloom Press
Publication Date: October 25, 2018
Pages in book: 231
Stand alone or series: #3 in the First Comes Love series
Where I got the book from: Author/publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

No one wants to be single at the holidays.

Even Little Miss Grinch, Nikki, a successful and independent woman, must face her bachelorette status at the most horrible time of the year.

December is her personal version of holly-jolly hell: a merry torture made of couples kissing at every corner, forced vacation days, and an inescapable family reunion.

And when her baby sister announces she’s engaged—to Paul, the man Nikki is secretly in love with—and that he’s spending the holidays with them, Christmas starts looking bluer than ever.

Nikki can’t possibly survive an entire week trapped home as the family’s spinster. But she has no time to meet men or to try the newest dating app, she’s too busy working as a video producer for an advertising agency. 

So what’s a girl to do? 

Nikki has the perfect solution: to hire a fake boyfriend.

Luckily, her job gives her access to an endless catalog of gorgeous actors to choose from.

But Nikki will soon discover that keeping business and pleasure from mixing isn’t so easy, and that she might not be immune to a little mistletoe magic. Especially not when she picked out the perfect man as her Christmas date…

My rating: 4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. 

So far I’ve read the other 2 books in this series and I have to say overall this is just a great series. The books are laugh out loud funny and short enough to hold your interest but long enough to still have a well developed story line. If you’re looking for a fairly quick but still engaging and fun read, these are the books for you! The characters in this book in particular were great – I liked Nikki a lot and I liked Diego a good amount as well. A lot of the characters in this book tended to be a little selfish, which isn’t necessarily my favorite thing, but it didn’t take too much away from my overall enjoyment of the book. I loved seeing the relationship develop between Diego and Nikki – the tension between their characters was really well done and the emotions in the story fairly leapt off the page. I really liked the book a lot and I would recommend it!

And the end of the Kindle book version included a preview for the author’s next novel. I don’t usually read previews but I did end up reading this one and it looked great! I really hope I get a chance to read it when it comes out!

Link to author website

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2018 Book #92 – The Duke of Kisses by Darcy Burke

51eQF-PRE9LTitle: The Duke of Kisses
Author: Darcy Burke
Date finished: 11/27/18
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: November 27, 2018
Pages in book: 254
Stand alone or series:  The Untouchables series Book #11
Where I got the book from: Social Butterfly PR
NOTE: 
I received this book for free from Social Butterfly PR in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Frances Snowden can hardly believe her good fortune when she’s whisked away from her boring life by her sister who is now a duchess. Instead of becoming the third wife of her parents’ stuffy neighbor, she can be anything she wants: a doting aunt to her newborn niece, a debutante in London, or even an independent spinster. But when she meets and kisses a mysterious man on a walk in the countryside, she knows exactly what she desires—him.

David Langley, Earl of St. Ives, is resigned to marrying the dull woman his parents chose when he was a child. His future is suddenly, and happily, diverted when he encounters a captivating young woman who shows him everything he’s been missing. Ready to embark on a blissful life together, a long-buried feud between their families makes their marriage impossible. Nothing is more important than duty and family, but can he turn his back on love?

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I’ve been following this series for a little while now and I do enjoy each of the new stories that come out.  I really liked Fanny’s character in this book, though that is definitely not my favorite name for a heroine. David and Fanny were a really sweet couple and their story was definitely romantic. I felt bad for the other girl (Miss Stokes) since she seemed to like David and couldn’t really understand why she was being thrown out of the running. Also – there were a ton of characters in this book, and I had a lot of trouble keeping track of who everyone was, especially with their first and second names being used interchangeably. Other than that though, I did enjoy the book as it was romantic and sweet. I would recommend giving this book a read, along with the rest of the series!

Link to author website

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2018 Book #63 -One Wedding, Two Brides by Heidi Betts

51rKq75qdXLTitle: One Wedding, Two Brides
Author: Heidi Betts
Date finished: 7/25/18
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Publication Date: July 23, 2018
Pages in book: 263
Stand alone or series: Fairy Tale Brides series #1
Where I got the book from: Author’s Pal
NOTE: I received this book for free from Author’s Pal in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Jilted bride Monica Blair can’t believe it when she wakes up next to a blue-eyed, smooth-talking cowboy in the middle of nowhere and with a ring on her finger. It had sounded like a great plan at the time. Get married, get revenge, and get her money back. So why is she cleaning out stables and trying to keep her hands off the hot cowboy helping her?

Ryder Nash would have bet his best Stetson that you’d never see him walk down the aisle. But when the city girl with pink-streaked hair and a frog tattoo hatches a plan to expose the conman who married his sister, no idea is too crazy. And even though Monica might be the worst rancher’s wife he’s ever seen, he can’t stop thinking about the wedding night they never had.

What was supposed to be a temporary marriage for revenge is starting to feel a little too real…

My rating:  2.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. Also be sure to check out my Blog Tour post on this book!

I thought the cover on this book was so cute and fun, it really attracted me to want to pick up the book. This was an ok romance novel, it was a solid story and would make a good beach read. Ryder and Monica were both sweet and fun, they were super cute together. This was a fun and light-hearted read, just like the cover leads us to believe! There was a but more mush than I usually care for, but there definitely was romance. This was a pretty good read and I would recommend checking it out if you like a light-hearted cowboy romance.

Link to author website

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